Rainy Season in Costa Rica: How Wet Is It?

You probably know that Costa Rica has two distinct seasons, dry season and rainy season. But what is rainy season really like? After living in Costa Rica for almost a decade, we can say that rainy season is our favorite time of year. Everything is lush and green, it’s cooler, and less busy. If you’re visiting during these wetter months, you can still have an amazing time with some careful planning. In this post, we’ll let you know what to expect for weather during the rainy season in Costa Rica.

Rainy Season Costa Rica


Costa Rica may be a small country, but it has over 30 microclimates. This means that the weather varies a lot. You can be in one town in a heavy rainstorm, then drive 20 minutes and be under clear blue skies.

Costa Rica is in the tropics, so temperatures remain pleasant year-round. The climate and topography varies a lot, though, which can make for very different weather in different regions.

The country is divided by towering mountains, which separate the Pacific and Caribbean slopes. In this mixed topography, you can find cool cloud forest, steamy rainforest, arid tropical dry forest, humid mangrove, and many more ecosystems.

Below, we will give general information on the typical rainy season weather patterns. Keep in mind that it can be hard to make generalizations, as some areas differ from the general trends.

Note: We are talking here primarily about the Pacific coast and Pacific slope (inland areas with weather dominated by the Pacific Ocean). The weather on the Caribbean coast and Caribbean slope is a lot different. We’ll cover that in a separate section below.

Orange flower Tapanti National Park

Early Rainy Season – May, June, July

Dry season typically runs from December to the end of April. During these months, much of the country receives little to no rain.

In mid-April, the first rains usually begin along the Pacific coast. It may rain only a handful of times between mid-April and May, but the forest will start to green up again. Many regions of the country will be dry and barren since they haven’t received much, if any, rainfall since December. It can be especially dry in northern Guanacaste.

In early May through June, the weather is still really nice along the Pacific coast. Usually mornings are warm and sunny, with showers in the afternoon or evening as the heat builds. These are typically downpour-type tropical rains or thunderstorms that last an hour or two. However, there can be some days where the sky is overcast or rain is more intermittent.

In July, Costa Rica typically experiences what’s called a veranito or mini-summer. This is usually during the first two weeks of the month. The country tends to see less rain during this time. Keep in mind, though, that this is when Costa Rican schools are out for mid-year break and locals take time off. So beach towns can be busier.

Southern Pacific Coast Costa Rica Early July
Pavones, on the southern Pacific coast, in early July

Mid-Rainy Season – August to Mid-September

Early to mid-August usually has fairly good weather along the Pacific coast. Rain may be increasing some, but usually there are parts of the day that are sunny and dry.

Mid-August through mid-September can be more rainy; it depends on the year.

We often travel to Tamarindo and other towns in northern Guanacaste in mid-September, and usually have excellent weather.

Tamarindo Area Mid September
Playa Danta/Las Catalinas in northern Guanacaste in mid-September

One year when we visited Tamarindo in late August, it was quite rainy. We had a couple of days of sun, and one day out of the four days we were there was sort of a washout.

In the central Pacific, in places like Jaco and Manuel Antonio, the weather is usually fairly good during this time too.

Peak Rainy Season – October to Mid-November

Typically, the rainiest month on the Pacific coast is October. That doesn’t mean it rains all day, every day. There are still nice days with not too much rain, but they are less common.

Peak Rainy Season Costa Rica
Thick clouds and intermittent rain in the mountains during peak rainy season

Ondas or tropical waves are common during this time and into November. These are weather systems that bring large amounts of rain and sometimes thunderstorms. They can last anywhere from one to several days.

Hurricanes, although rare, are most common during October into mid-November. Some of the most devastating hurricanes to hit Costa Rica recently have been Eta (October 31-November 14, 2020), Nate (October 4-11, 2017), and Otto (November 17-26, 2016).

We don’t usually recommend October for visiting the Pacific coast since it can be hard to fit in activities with the frequent rains.

Early-to-mid November still can be rainy. It really varies by year. In recent years, we have been having quite a bit of rain in mid-November, at least where we have lived in the central and southern Pacific coast.

Transition Time – Late November to Early December

By late November, the rain tends to taper off along much of the Pacific coast. As we said above, though, we did have a big hurricane in late November recently.

In early December, every year, it is like a switch is flipped and the weather turns from humid and unstable to drier with sunny skies. The exact timing of when this happens varies by region, but generally it is in the first or second week of December. There may be some rain during this time, but it’s usually just a short burst.

Regional Weather

Pacific Coast

The weather varies a lot as you go up and down the Pacific coast.

Looking at a map, the northernmost region, Guanacaste Province, is the driest area. It receives little to no rain during the dry months and often gets its first significant rains of rainy season later in May. The climate is very hot and dry in general. You’ll notice that the forest here is different than in wetter areas. The tropical dry forest is adapted to long stretches without water.

Popular destinations in the Guanacaste region are Tamarindo, Flamingo, Potrero, Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, the Papagayo, Nosara, and Samara.

Playa Flamingo September
Playa Flamingo looking lush and green in September

As you go down the Pacific coast, the climate becomes more wet. The Nicoya Peninsula (Montezuma, Santa Teresa) and central Pacific coast (Jaco, Manuel Antonio) receive a little more rain. The forest here is actually a mix of tropical dry forest and tropical rainforest. This makes sense since it is a transition area in terms of climate.

South of Manuel Antonio is the southern Pacific coast. This region gets the most rain and has the longest rainy season. It is still a nice place to visit, though, during non-peak rainy season. We lived in this area for several years and loved the climate. Major towns in this region are Dominical and Uvita as well as Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula.

Southern Pacific Coast Costa Rica Rainy Season
In the mountains near Dominical on the Southern Pacific coast in September

Inland Areas

Generalizing about the weather in inland areas is tough because it varies a lot. The mountainous terrain creates many microclimates, which can cause big differences in rainfall from town to town. We’ll talk about three major inland destinations below.

San Jose in Costa Rica’s Central Valley follows a similar wet and dry pattern as the Pacific coast; however, the rains can be more intense. For example, if early rainy season brings some short downpours to the beach areas, San Jose may get more substantial rains that last several hours.

Monteverde is very high altitude and gets a lot of rain year-round. Dry season or early to mid-rainy season is usually a good time to visit.

La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano has its own unique weather patterns and rain is more frequent. The typical dry season months like December through March can be rainy there. While September and October can be a great time to see the volcano.

Arenal Volcano views September
Arenal Volcano looking gorgeous in early September

Caribbean Coast

The Caribbean coast (Tortuguero, Cahuita, and Puerto Viejo) has completely different weather from the Pacific slope. There aren’t really any bad times to visit. The Caribbean receives similar amounts of rain by month year-round. Since the rain is spread out, it usually doesn’t feel like it’s rainy all the time at any given point. Unless, of course, there is a tropical storm.

July does tend to receive the most rainfall by number of days and precipitation amount, if you are looking at that month.

September and October receive the least rain by far. This makes it a great time to visit the Caribbean coast. These months are peak rainy season on the Pacific coast, so the timing is perfect.

Southern Caribbean Costa Rica in September
Punta Uva in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast in late September

Weather Charts

For more information on Costa Rica’s weather, see our post, Weather in Costa Rica: What You Need to Know.

We give some graphs that show, for each province, precipitation by month and number of days with rainfall. This can help with your planning if you’re trying to decide which month to travel to a certain region.


We hope this post gives you a better idea of what to expect for weather during rainy season in Costa Rica. Rainy season can be a wonderful time to travel. With less visitors, lush forest, and still plenty of sun and blue skies, it offers a lot more than many people realize.

Have a question about visiting during the rainy season in Costa Rica? Ask us below.

Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:

Why You Should Visit Costa Rica in Rainy Season: Learn about attractions and activities that are better with more rain. Also covers some disadvantages of visiting during rainy season.

Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials – Know what gear and clothing to bring for those wetter months.

Driving in Costa Rica – If you’re thinking of renting a car, check out our article for info on road conditions and what to expect.

Related Posts

International Driving Permit Costa Rica
International Driving Permit in Costa Rica
Using At-Home Test Enter US from Costa Rica
Using At-Home Covid Tests to Enter US from Costa Rica
Testing Positive Covid Costa Rica
Testing Positive for Covid in Costa Rica
Getting a SIM Card for Travel in Costa Rica
Getting a SIM Card for Travel in Costa Rica


  1. I was worried about visiting during the rainy season when we went to Costa Rica during the first two weeks of August in 2019 and spent our time in the area around Uvita and mid-southern Pacific Coast, as well as Monteverde and Arenal. I was especially concerned about driving. We had NO problems and very little, if any, down time due to rain. The 4-wheel drive car we rented through Jenn and Matt’s connection was new and comfy and easy to handle and the rental company bent over backwards to make it easy for us. I’d recommend seeing Costa Rica at this time of year.

    1. Hi Connie, Thanks for taking the time to let us know how it was for you traveling during rainy season. Glad it went well and you didn’t have any problems. And thank you so much for renting your car through our website. We appreciate it!

  2. Hi Matt and Jen, Got to tell you what a lift I get every time I get your newsletter. We are desperate to come back to Costa Rica and possibly to relocate there. But of course Covid has got in the way of everybody’s plans. My husband and I are retired, very keen naturalists/photographers, and we think that around Nuevo Arenal will be ideal. Do keep on going – I know a lot of us will be taking up your suggestions when we can travel again. Many thanks. Bookey Peek

    1. Hi Bookey, That’s great to hear and gives us a boost right now during these tough Covid times. It’s always great to hear from our readers. Hope you can get back soon to do some more exploring for your retirement. It sounds like Nuevo Arenal would be a great fit for you. Pura vida!

  3. Hi Matt and Jen,
    Thinking about visiting Costa Rica in early September. Would you say it typically rains more the more inland you go? We are eyeing a place in Bagaces. Would love to hear your perspective on the rainy season, but more inland. Thank you!!!

  4. Hello,

    Me and my boyfriend plan on going to Costa Rica in early December. I would like to go to the Caribbean coast (Puerto Viejo area) but am worried a bit because it’s rainy season in that area. As I figured out the weather is not that bad but what about roads and driving? We’re from Croatia so we are used to narrow roads but… Thank you!

    1. Hi Maja, It’s not really rainy season on the southern Caribbean in December. The Caribbean side has different weather patterns and more like 4 seasons (2 dry, 2 rainy). But really, in our experience, it’s never all that bad. We were in Puerto Viejo for about a month in December several years back and the weather was quite nice. Some rain, but just for short amounts of time.

  5. My daughter wants to travel to Costs Rica for her 30th birthday. Problem is it’s July 1. I’m worried about rainy season and hurricanes at this time. Can you advise best areas to look at. She is adventurous so wants to hike, white water raft, zip line, etc. but also some beach time. Thanks for any advice you can give.

    1. Hi Marcia, Early July isn’t a bad time to visit. That’s early on in rainy season and often it rains less during the first couple of weeks of July. Basically anywhere in the country should be fairly good in terms of weather.

  6. Hey Matt,

    We are looking at going to Arenal and Tenorio volcanos before heading out to Tamarindo. Because I teach almost year round, we are limited to first week of August. How much rain are we to expect? Also not-weather related, (but you appear to know all the answers!), which hikes do you recommend that aren’t too difficult, but still gives you beautiful vistas, wildlife, waterfalls, etc. We have a few days. What about any that actually get us to hike up an actual volcano? This website has been great to help me plan 🙂

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Sally, The weather should be pretty good in Arenal and Tenorio in early August. Those areas of the country have slightly different weather patterns. So Arenal typically sees less rain then than in December-March. The Tenorio area is quite rainy in general but I don’t think it’s worse that time of year.

      For moderate hikes in those areas, you could do the Rio Celeste Waterfall, Heliconias in Bijagua (hanging bridges and pristine rainforest), and Arenal 1968 Trail or Mirador Elsilencio for something more off the beaten path.

      Hikes up a volcano are not common here but there are some crater volcanoes you can peer into if conditions are right. These are Poas and Irazu.

  7. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary and would like to be in Costa Rica the end of October until November 19. Wondering what would be better, the Pacific or Caribbean side better. Like the idea of beaches and bird watching, nature walks, and this is our first time in Costa Rica.

    1. Hi Nina, That is a difficult time of year to visit. Either coast can get big tropical storms that time of year. You would be better off waiting a bit after your anniversary, until early December. If you don’t want to wait, we would do the southern Caribbean coast.

  8. Hello Jenn and Matt,
    can you recommand a weather app or website for weather forecast in Costa Rica?
    Thanks in advance and best regards,

  9. Hi! We were just getting ready to book a last minute trip for May 10th – 14th but looking at the forecast calling for thunderstorms everyday ha me concerned. We definitely don’t want to be stuck in our room for 4 days. What are your thoughts? Our plan was to stay in Guanastane.

    1. Hi Angel, The weather forecast is not accurate at all in Costa Rica. Here is a link to our Weather post with more explanation. This time of year, it doesn’t usually rain too much in Guanacaste. It’s mostly afternoon or evening storms; not bad at all.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Add Trees to Your Order


Become a Subscriber!

Receive our newest articles by email. It’s free.